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  • Are you harnessing the power of online reviews?

    Smarter Writer
    Smarter Team

    A team of business and technology journalists and editors who write to help Australia’s community of small and medium businesses access the technology and know-how that helps solve problems and create opportunities.

    Smarter Writer
    Smarter Team

    A team of business and technology journalists and editors who write to help Australia’s community of small and medium businesses access the technology and know-how that helps solve problems and create opportunities.

    Before choosing to buy, customers are turning to online reviews to see how a business fares. Discover how skillfully managing feedback online can give customers more reason to trust – and spend with – your business.

    Online review options

    According to the Telstra Business Intelligence report on Digital Marketing, a majority of customers (81%) use online reviews to help them choose a business, but many SMBs (45%) underestimate their value.

    With a quick online search, consumers can read about someone else’s experience with your business. And it’s not just about whether the feedback is positive or negative – how you respond also says a lot.

    Let’s take a look at some of the basics of managing online reviews so you can start tapping into their potential.

    Embrace reviews

    Reviews provide valuable snippets of information that can help you make improvements ­in your business – but they also help new customers decide whether they want to spend with you. To start, you may need to create a prompt or make it really clear for customers to know how and where to leave a service or product review. This could be via an email after a customer makes a purchase, or via a pop-up on your website. You could include a general ‘reviews’ or ‘testimonials’ section on your website or add item-specific reviews on service or product pages.

    If reviews aren’t readily flying in, consider offering customers an incentive like a discount on their next shop if they provide feedback.

    Know where to meet your reviewers

    Your owned channels, like your website and social media pages, offer you more control when it comes to managing and responding to reviews. But your customers might also be leaving feedback in other places. Check how your business fares on review platforms (like Yelp or Trustpilot), search engine listings (like Bing or Google reviews) and third-party platforms (like Uber Eats or eBay) if your business is using them. There are also industry- or product-specific platforms, like Vivino, an app for reviewing wine.

    Consider where existing customers are talking about your business online, because new customers searching for information about your business will likely come across these conversations. Once you’ve worked this out (by monitoring the platforms relevant to your business), focus your efforts there.

    Respond appropriately – even to negative reviews

    It’s not surprising that some customers would be turned off buying from a small business on the basis of unfavourable reviews ­– in fact, 38% would, according to the Digital Marketing report. But 40% of consumers would feel confident to buy from a business that has responded appropriately to unfavourable reviews. So, be consistent with how you respond to reviews, because your customers will have visibility of how you manage feedback (both positive and negative) and your response could sway them to spend with you or look elsewhere.

    Creating an online review strategy for you and your team can help to set a consistent standard for managing all types of feedback. The Queensland Government and Government of Western Australia offer tips that may help you form a plan. Consider developing a bank of example responses so that anyone can pick up the responsibility and maintain your business’s tone of voice – and you can make sure that all of your customers receive the same great service.

    Tips to get your online reviews in order

    Follow these steps to get your business on the way to harnessing the full potential of online reviews.

    • Give customers a direct prompt to leave feedback about your business online – and incentivise it, if you need to.
    • Look beyond your owned channels and monitor other review platforms to make sure you’re not neglecting valuable insights about how customers experience your business.
    • Develop a strategy for how you and your team will manage feedback, both positive and negative, and make sure it’s consistent


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